Nowadays there are people from three different generations working in the labor market and because of that managers more and more often face the problems caused by generation differences. The problems usually arise because people from various generations think unlikely, they have distinct communication styles and different understandings of what kind of work tasks they should do and how they should be done. Employees from different generations value the authority of their managers, the work environment, the existing rules and the working habits of their job place differently.
The baby boomers are people that were born between 1946 and 1964 years. They belong to the generation that is mostly concentrated on work – they don’t count their working hours and value themselves according to their achievements at work. They are devoted and loyal therefore they don’t change jobs very often.
X-geners were born on 1965-1977, they are independent, intelligent and can easily adapt to various working conditions. The employees from this generation are entrepreneurial and have a “do it yourself” attitude, they are not afraid of changes and value flexibility. Even though they career oriented, they do not forget their family and want to have a good work to life balance.
Y-geners were born between 1978 and 2000. They are technology geniuses and are used to using all the communication tools. They are very good at teamwork, are creative and can do many tasks at the same time. They seek personal growth, professional development and meaningful careers and if they cannot attain it, they rush to change their work place.
The millennials were born after the 2000, they are often hyperactive and impatient, and therefore, it is hard for them to concentrate on one activity for a long time. They tend to make decisions quickly when they are solving problems and their decisions are often unreasoned and inaccurate. The millennials are very independent, they can find activities for themselves and don’t need to be directed therefore it is predicted that they will value flexibility and will prefer to work as freelancers. From their childhood they are used to process massive amounts of information and are smarter than any other generation.
In order to work successfully with employees from different generations, you have to learn to communicate in a way that is acceptable to them and to evaluate their different expectations and values. For example, the baby boomers will be happy with an opportunity to manage the project – it is the highest motivation for them. X-geners will value the freedom to do their tasks individually, the way they think it should be done. Y-geners want to work in a creative team that is generating new ideas all the time.
You should create conditions for your employees to learn from each other – the younger employees should be encouraged to gain experience from the older ones, especially from the employees that have been working in a company for a long time, because they know what the company has already tried and which mistakes not to repeat. The older employees should be more open to new ideas and suggestions, they should learn how to use new technologies and how to work with new innovative methods. It will help the employees to develop new skills, and will improve the work-atmosphere.
Hence, you should also think about the generational differences when you are preparing trainings. Baby boomers are used to old-fashioned training methods: presentations and studying from books, while younger employees digest the information better when they make practical assignments. Additionally, for youth it is easier to remember visual information, therefore it is advised to use visualizations and visually attractive presentations.
Evaluate and commend your employees, it will give them additional motivation and will improve their productivity. A laudatory email on great results will be enough for the X-geners, while baby boomers aspire status and it is important for them that everybody would know about their achievements, thus, a work meeting is a perfect occasion to praise them. Y-geners want to be evaluated as often as possible, they seek recognition, therefore they will be happy with higher responsibilities and a chance to take part in training.
Do not forget that employees from different age-groups are used to different communication manners. Older employees are used to communicate face to face or by phone, while younger employees are used to communicate via emails and short text messages.
Consider employees’ opinion when you are making important decisions that will affect them and avoid restricting them. It is hard for Y-geners to work under strict hierarchical management style, they value the possibility to contribute to the decision making. Y and X-geners don’t like official habitual meetings, so organise them only when there are important matters to discuss.
Don’t confuse different generational traits with laziness or immaturity. Baby boomers think it is necessary to work long weeks in order to achieve successful results, while it doesn’t matter how diligent an Y-geners are, they value their free time and do not approve long working hours. However, in case of the necessity, they are ready to work as long as it takes to finish the task and to make things done.
Tony Robbins once said:
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
Only after you realize the differences of your employees you will be able to use it for the benefit of your company as well as the employees and to achieve the highest results.